Senate preps for vote on advancing GOP healthcare reform

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to the media following a meeting about healthcare at the White House last month. The Senate is set to hold a procedural vote Tuesday on whether to move forward with reform efforts. File Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI

July 25 (UPI) — The U.S. Senate is poised to vote Tuesday on whether to move ahead with efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — a prospect that’s so far failed to pass the upper chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled a procedural vote on the matter, which has now languished in Congress for months.

The procedural vote, called a motion to proceed, was set to occur sometime after the Senate convenes at noon. If the vote is successful, it will allow the chamber to begin debates on whether to repeal and replace the ACA with the House-passed healthcare bill — the American Health Care Act — which would later be swapped out for a Senate version.

At least 50 Senators need to approve the procedural vote, as Vice President Mike Pence would break a tie in favor of proceeding. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate but Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Monday she will vote against going forward.

Sen. John McCain is expected to make a dramatic return to the Senate Tuesday, in time to cast his vote after taking time off for treatment of his brain cancer.

President Donald Trump said early Tuesday it was a “big day for healthcare” — after previously lamenting congressional Republicans for failing to pass earlier proposed bills.

“After seven years of talking, we will soon see whether or not Republicans are willing to step up to the plate!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Though the vote on the motion to proceed could pass, a vote on either the House-passed bill (AHCA) or the most recent version of the Senate’s healthcare bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would likely fail as numerous Republican Senators — including Collins and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. — have indicated they would vote against them.

Some senators have encouraged those who oppose the GOP-led legislation efforts to vote “yes” for the motion to proceed to at least allow for debate.

“It’s inexplicable to me why anyone, including Democrats, wouldn’t vote to allow us to debate the bill and offer amendments,” Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said.

Other Republican senators have not yet indicated whether they will support or vote against the procedural vote.

“I’m not blindly voting,” Paul said Monday night

Republican leaders in Congress and the White House are encouraging allies to vote on the motion to proceed — despite reservations to simply move forward with the process to improve the chances of repealing and replacing the ACA, which has so far been a repeated and unsuccessful goal of congressional Republicans under Trump’s leadership.

“The question for every senator, Democrat or Republican, is whether they will side with Obamacare’s architects or with its forgotten victims,” Trump said on Monday. “Any senator who votes against starting debate is telling America tat you are fine with the Obamacare nightmare.”

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